Speaker Series

Women Influencing the Arts Speakers Series provides a space for women artists and arts leaders (Current and aspiring) as well as their supporters to come together to discuss challenges, provide advice, and ultimately CELEBRATE accomplishments. The goal is to foster honest and open dialogues, in a productive environment. It is intended to be informative and also positive and inspirational: the series will celebrate women’s strength, perseverance, and tenacity through the personal stories of the speakers who participate.

Parking at the Women’s Center at Virginia Tech is limited. Parking can be found on the surrounding streets, Kent Square parking garage, and the Squire Parking lot

Bechdel Project

Celebrating Success: Inspirations, Creations and ExplorationsBechdelProjectLogo

Thursday, September 1, 2016, 5:30PM
Henderson, Room 204
195 Alumni Mall
Free and open to the public
Join Maria Maloney and Kimberly Faith Hickman, co-founders of Bechdel Project, as they share their unique perspectives and lead us through their tremendous journey of creating a life in the arts.

Eventbrite - Bechdel Project, Celebrating Success: Inspirations, Creations & Explorations

Kimberly Fatih HickmanKimberly Faith Hickman

Kimberly Faith Hickman is an Artistic Director, and stage director and choreographer whose credits include Broadway, Off Broadway, national tours and regional theatre productions across the country. Broadway: The Scottsboro Boys, Clybourne Park, The Assembled Parties. Off-Broadway and NYC: Manhattan Theatre Club, Roundabout Theatre Company, Atlantic Theatre Company, Women’s Project, Epic Theatre Ensemble, Theatre Row, terraNOVA Collective, Horse Trade Theatre Group, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, Writopia Lab and more. Regional: Center Theatre Group, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Westport Country Playhouse, Know Theatre of Cincinnati, Next Act Theatre, Omaha Playhouse, Springer Opera House, Off Square Theatre, Playhouse on the Square and various national touring companies. Associate and assistant directing credits include productions with Lynne Meadow and Pam MacKinnon. Recipient of multiple SDC Observerships and Manhattan Theatre Club Fellowships. Member Lincoln Center Theatre Directors Lab and Directors Lab West. Proud Member of SDC, professional union for stage directors and choreographers.  In addition to being a Founding Member of Bechdel Project, she is also the Artistic Director of Omaha Playhouse.  Visit www.kimberlyfaithhickman.com


Maria MaloneyMaria Maloney

Maria Maloney is a professional actor and singer whose credits include Off Broadway, national tours and regional theatre productions across the country.  NYC Theatre:AMBUSH! (Sam French Fest 2016), The Inn at Lake Devine (Tongue In Cheek Theater), Jennifer Lane’s Tummy Bubbles (terraNOVA Collective Groundbreakers, Samuel French Festival 2013, Women Center Stage 2013), Three Wishes for Jamie (Musicals Tonight!), Bring Back Birdie (Opening Doors Theatre)Regional:The Star-Spangled Girl (Springer Opera House), Suds (Greenbrier Valley Theatre), All Shook Up, The Last Five Years and The Crucible (Roxy Regional Theatre), Bye Bye Birdie (Ocean City Theatre Company). Tours: Amelia Bedelia and Other Stories (Two BeansProds.) and The Taffetas (Springer Theatricals). Maria is a member of the Actors’ Equity Association and is also a Founding Member of Bechel Project.  Visit www.mariamaloney.com

LeeRay Costa

Girls Rock Roanoke: Inclusivity & Transformation in Non-profit Arts Education
Thursday, September 29, 2016, 5:30PM
Women’s Center at Virginia Tech
Free and open to the public
In this presentation Dr. LeeRay Costa will discuss the joys and challenges of transformative non-profit arts education through her experience leading Girls Rock Roanoke, an empowerment program for girls and gender non-conforming youth in Southwest Virginia.


Eventbrite - LeeRay Costa, Empowering Girls and Women Through Music: Challenges in Promoting Production Education with Female Few Influences



LeeRay Costa 2Dr. LeeRay Costa is Founder & Board President of Girls Rock Roanoke, a non-profit,
community run organization whose mission is to empower girls and women through
music, creative expression, and collaboration. Dr. Costa is also John P. Wheeler Professor
of Gender and Women’s Studies, and Cultural Anthropology at Hollins University. Her
research and teaching focuses on social justice and processes of social change.



Heather Leeper

Women Supporting Women: Examining the Importance of  Having a Network
Thursday, October 13, 2016, 5:30PM
Women’s Center at Virginia TechHeather 2
Free and open to the public
Join Heather Leeper, owner and creator of Little Leapers, as she examines the importance of having a supportive network. She will discuss her own struggles with negativity and how it inspired her to create Be Kind Blacksburg. 

Eventbrite - Heather Leeper, Women Supporting Women: Overcoming Negativity and Lack of Support

Heather Leeper is the owner and creator of Little Leapers and it’s unique curriculum.

Heather has studied dance for over 20 years. She trained in Saratoga, NY under New York City Ballet esteemed alumni; Michael Steele, Olga Kostritzky, Deborah Wingert, and Garielle Whittle. She also trained under Darlene Myers of the Pennsylvania Ballet Company at the Myers School of Dance, and performing with the Northeast Ballet.

Heather comes from a long line of dancers, including her grandmother who graduated from the Performing Arts High School in New York (Remember ‘FAME’?) where she graduated with such prestigious classmates as, Arthur Mitchell founder of the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Heather has performed with various companies including the New York City Ballet, Saratoga City Ballet (soloist), Ballet Regent, Northeast Ballet (soloist), Burklyn Ballet, Blacksburg Ballet (soloist), Albany Berkshire Ballet (soloist), and the Dance Company at Virginia Tech.

While living in Washington, DC Heather was a professional cheerleader for the NHL Washington Capitals, MLB Washington Nationals, MLL Chesapeake Bayhawks, and was a finalist for the NFL Washington Redskins Cheerleaders.She also was the choreographer for the Washington Nationals Dug Out Dancers.

Heather began teaching at the age of 18, and has successfully created and run various dance groups and companies including the McLean High School Varsity, JV and Middle School Dance Teams, and Little Leapers.


Jackiewithdolls_smJackie Harder

Emerging Into the Professional Landscape: Exploring Balance, Generating Income, Rejection and Community Support. 
Thursday, October 27, 2016, 5:30PM
Women’s Center at Virginia Tech
Free and open to the public
Jackie Harder, mixed media visual artist, will discuss the challenges of being an “alternative” artist in a small town. Jackie will speak to her struggles and discoveries of finding support as a young emerging artist through sharing and selling her work both locally and internationally, online.
Eventbrite - Jackie Harder, Emerging Into the Professional Landscape: Exploring Balance, Generating Income, Rejection and Community Support


Jackie Harder creates mixed media creatures that come from her imaginary enchanted world of the Trillium Forest. While primarily inspired but the fungi kingdom when conceiving her creatures, you will see all kinds of forest dwellers pop up in her work. Jackie works across a number of media, including digital art and illustration, sculpture, painting and fabric. Jackie has many collectors, both locally and internally and sells her work online as well as participates in gallery shows, craft fairs and exhibitions primarily in Blacksburg, Va. Most recently she created an installation for the Hahn Horticulture Garden at Virginia Tech as a part of their annual Simply Elemental show. To learn more about Jackie’s creatures and events, visit http://www.jackieharderart.com

Sponsored By 

wc.logo.   sopa 01web-placeholder